AS the Orange 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) dawns, President Michael Sata has urged the Chipolopolo to aim for the ultimate prize again by overcoming all obstacles at the 29th edition which kicks off this weekend in South Africa.
President Sata said yesterday that the Chipolopolo should once again represent Zambia with determination, passion and pride to overcome all obstacles they would encounter at the 16-nation tournament.
"I have never doubted your passion for the game, courage to overcome and desire to be champions. I know your determination to win and I believe in your abilities," he said in his goodwill message to the national team released by his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations, George Chellah ahead of the 2013 AFCON finals.
The President said as AFCON champions, the burden to prove their true worthiness was greater, and that of equal proportion should be their ambition to remain the best team on the continent.
President Sata, who is also Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) patron challenged the team to turn every challenge into an opportunity and exploit their chances to the fullest.
He reaffirmed his personal and Government's support to the Chipolopolo which he said was borne not only out of the love for football but strong conviction in the unending potential of the team, backroom staff and FAZ officials.
"That should, however, not put you under any pressure but inspire you to greater heights. You should know that you have my full support and that of my Government and all Zambians," President Sata said.
And veteran football commentator, Dennis Liwewe said the current crop of players in the squad had the determination to succeed.
Speaking when he appeared on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation's Sunday Interview programme, Liwewe said he had the belief that the Chipolopolo would defend the AFCON crown in South Africa.
He appealed to Zambians not to lose faith in coach Herve Renard's men because of uninspiring results from the pre-AFCON warm up matches.
Since the start of the final phase of preparations for the AFCON, Zambia lost 0-2 to Angola before drawing 0-0 with Morocco last Tuesday and Norway at the weekend.
But Liwewe said such experimental games should not deflate the fans' hopes because they were used by the coaches to test all players.
"Wait until when the AFCON finals starts. Friendly matches are just friendly matches as the word suggests as those are games that the coaches wants to use to see which players he can use during the actual tournament. It is from such matches that you learn from, we have the best squad now," he said.
Liwewe also said the Talent identification Programme should be spread to all parts of the country unlike restricting selection to the line of rail. He said there was need to make use of the massive support Government was giving sports to boost the sport.
Zambia are in Group C with two-time champions, Nigeria, 1962 winners Ethiopia and 1998 semi-finalists, Burkina Faso at the 2013 AFCON which runs from January 19 to February 10.
The Chipolopolo will open the AFCON account on Monday against Ethiopia at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit before renewing their rivalry with Nigeria on January 25 and wrap up their Group C fixtures against Burkina Faso four days later.